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April 2018 Debut of the Month | In a nutshell: in his own words, quirky, super-readable saga of a ten-year-old ‘detective’ Ten-year-old Rory is pretty satisfied with his life. He lives happily with his mum and brother, and has friends, best being Wilkins Welkin, his next-door neighbour’s sausage dog. But there are two big problems in his life: no-one ever tells him anything, and his dad disappeared when Rory was three. To find out why, he decides to become a detective – despite the derision of his big brother. In a timely bit of luck, new neighbour Cassidy Callaghan – aka ‘The Cat’ – offers to help. The two, of course, get into all sorts of trouble, and to the surprise of everyone, unearth some real villains in the process. Words and illustrations are both very funny and surprisingly touching. This will sit happily next to the Wimpy Kids, Dork Diaries and Barry Losers, but for its idiosyncratic and convincing voice and real sense of family dynamics, is probably closest to Lauren Child’s Clarice Bean books. A great new series for young readers. ~ Andrea Reece
Award-winning Frances Hardinge is spellbinding is this hugely entertaining and dramatic Victorian thriller. When Faith’s father dies suddenly she knows she must try to find out exactly what he was hiding in the local caves she had recently visited with him. Discovering the extraordinary Lie Tree which thrives off hearing lies and, in turn, reveals secrets long kept hidden Faith begins to uncover a web of secrets and mysteries that will change her view of the world forever. Faith is a feisty heroine whose courage combined with a determination that girls can be brave and resolute leads to the exposure of much dishonesty and many deceptions. ~ Julia Eccleshare. WINNER of the 2015 COSTA BOOK OF THE YEAR and Winner of the Costa Children's Book Award Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2016. Winner of the UKLA 2016 Book Award in the 12 - 16 year old category. The Lie Tree is only the second children’s book to take the overall Costa Book of the Year prize, and the first since Philip Pullman won with The Amber Spyglass in 2001. James Heneage, chair of the final judges, said: “Part horror, part detective, part historical, this is a fantastic story with great central characters and narrative tension. It’s not only a fabulous children’s book but a book that readers of all ages will love."
Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2018 | January 2019 Debut of the Month | | Stinging with drama, action and, above all, a relentless sense of urgency, this ruthlessly remarkable debut sees an indomitable Jewess go undercover. When Sarah’s mother is shot dead, there’s no time for sentimentality, no time to grieve. Sarah must press on, “keep moving”, for her survival depends on it. She joins forces with the Captain, a man she discovers is part of the resistance against the Nazis, and Sarah will spy for him. To this end, she adopts a new identity. She becomes Ursula Haller, the “good little dumb National Socialist Monster”. The Captain secures her a place at a school attended by the daughters of top Nazis, and here she must befriend Elsa, whose father is a leading scientist. The conditions at the school are repugnantly cruel, but Sarah is sharp and strong beyond her fifteen years. Though her childhood was curtailed by her actress mother, and then by the Nazis, she’s defiantly resilient, and infiltrates the grand home and secret lab of a top SS scientist. Compelling and quick-paced, the writing - like Sarah’s character - is indelibly raw, and this is a fiercely gripping read. The Costa Judges said : ‘A compelling, darkly thrilling debut - tense, cinematic and brilliant.’
With a cast of characters as colourful as the day-glo pinks and greens of its illustrations, and a plot that’s just as bright, Fabio the World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective is going to wow young readers. Guests and staff are stunned when a talented hippo disappears right in the middle of her performance in the Hotel Royale’s talent competition. Fortunately Fabio is on hand to solve the mystery, and a couple of others in the process. Children who enjoy detective stories will love following the clues with Fabio, and children and adults alike will delight in the lush setting and in the comedy provided by Fabio’s co-stars, including hapless assistant Gilbert the Giraffe. For another quirky, satisfying animal detective series see Alex T Smith’s new Mr Penguin books.
In a nutshell: comic mishaps and triumphs of a schoolboy detective A sign in his local library catches the eye of schoolboy detective Damian Drooth: it offers a weekend at Disneyland Paris for the winners of a ‘mega quiz’. Damian rounds up his gang and sets them to work, first of all to raise the £10 entrance fee, and then to swot up in readiness. He’s understandably furious when the quiz turns out to be a scam, but quickly cheers up at the prospect of tracking down the conman. With echoes of Horrid Henry and Just William, Damian is a terrific character, determined, confident, and totally unfazed by adult disapproval. This series will have children and adults alike chuckling and is perfect for newly independent readers. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: comic mishaps and triumphs of a schoolboy detective Damian Drooth, self-proclaimed boy detective, is off with his mum to Green Park Holiday Village. Mum is standing in for the chef, who’s ill, and Damian can have a holiday – or at least that’s what Mum suggests. Fat chance! As soon as he hears that kids’ bikes are going missing, Damian is on the case and determined to track down the culprit, no matter what. As ever, he causes complete chaos without even really trying, but manages too to apprehend the thief. It’s another funny, satisfying story in an excellent series and is absolutely perfect for newly independent readers. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: page-turning, explosive treasure-hunting adventures Indiana Jones meets Alex Rider in this excellent series. The Atlases are just like any other family, bickering away, with parents generally on one side against Jake and his teenage sister Pandora. There’s one big difference though: Mr and Mrs Atlas are super-tech treasure hunters, tomb robbers with a conscience if you like, and after years keeping this a secret, they’ve reluctantly recruited their children to join the family firm. This episode pits the Atlases against the mysterious People of the Snake again, and the ruthless Snake Lady, and takes them to South America for adventures in ancient Aztec ruins. It’s a treat for anyone who likes their reading fast-paced and their gadgets hi-tech, and there’s humour too – Jake’s voice is spot on – while Lloyd Jones slips in lots of accurate and fascinating historical detail. ~ Andrea Reece
April 2018 Debut of the Month | Shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2018 | In a nutshell: breath-taking magical adventure on the banks of London’s underground rivers Hyacinth Hayward, newly arrived in the UK from the US, is already struggling with culture shock when her mum is kidnapped by the strangest postmen ever and she herself is plunged (literally) into extraordinary adventure. Amongst the mass of magical quest adventures, The City of Secret Rivers stands out and not just because of its cast of fascinating characters (unscrupulous sewer dwelling cockney criminals and a possibly malevolent but extremely polite giant pig included), or its singular setting (the banks of London’s underground rivers); the sheer invention and wit of author Jacob Sager Weinstein makes this a special read and every page crackles with originality and energy. Outlandish fun! ~ Andrea Reece Readers looking for more page-turning adventures that cleverly combine real historical places with rip-roaring adventure will enjoy the Defender of the Realm series by Nick Ostler and Mark Huckerby. The Branford Boase Judges said : ‘clever, so funny, so well controlled’; ‘hugely inventive’; ‘I thought “I know where this is going to end” – and I didn’t’; ‘a joyful caper that carries you along’.
In a nutshell: upstairs downstairs intrigue with a touch of magic Pattern is not your average housemaid: she’s already foiled one devilish plot, fighting off a dragon in the process, and now she’s a fully trained member of the Silver Service Agency, servants who work undercover to investigate crimes, especially those with supernatural complications. Indeed, her poker-fencing skills are as advanced as her bonnet-trimming. Sent to investigate the disappearance of a young lord, she finds herself on a Cornish island with the mysterious Lady Hawk. Surely rumours of pirates and mermaids are just talk? This cleverly mixes magic and adventure with the sort of satisfaction that only comes from a quiet, resourceful heroine doing daring things (there’s definitely something of Jane Eyre about Pattern). It’s very well-written, the domestic and magical worlds are equally well-described and both full of intriguing detail. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: first class crime writing for children This is the latest book in Robin Stevens’ best-selling boarding school crime series, number six, and I do hope it’s not the last: very few books deliver such a delicious spoonful of character, crime, setting and pace. This adventure takes place in Hazel’s home, Hong Kong, and the dreadful crimes that take place are horribly close to her own family. The mystery will keep readers eagerly turning the pages, while 1930s Hong Kong is more than just a fascinating backdrop. The relationship between Daisy and Hazel still holds surprises, while there are new characters too to almost steal the limelight. It would be a crime to miss a book this good. ~ Andrea Reece ****Are you a budding super-sleuth? Well then, you're in luck, young detective. The Honourable Daisy Wells, President of the Wells & Wong Detective Society, has written a fantastic (if we must say so) guide to detecting, which will help you get ready to solve your first case... Find out more here!
In a nutshell: comic triumphs and mishaps of a schoolboy detective Schoolboy super-sleuth Damian Drooth is back with a new case: someone is selling forged tickets outside his local football ground and Damian is determined to track down the culprit. He’s ably assisted by his trainees Winston, Tod and Harry and despite their protestations that they don’t need girls to help, Annabelle Harrington-Smythe plays a part too. After a bit of breaking and entering and accidental arson, all works out successfully for Damian. His narrative is action-packed and wonderfully comic and the stories are great fun for children ready to read on their own. With echoes of Horrid Henry and Just William, and illustrations by Tony Ross, these books will definitely be the number one boy detective series in many homes. ~ Andrea Reece
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